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Developing Our Talent Pipeline

One of our highest priorities at Katapult is to have a thriving culture full of healthy people, which means we are always looking to find and develop the right individuals that will help our team grow.

In my last article, I talked about some of our favorite strategies to keep our company healthy and our people fulfilled. I also discussed briefly the concept of our hiring mindset, which often involves playing the long game to attract top talent.

This “talent pipeline”–which can take years to develop–isn’t always possible at larger companies, or small teams that are growing too rapidly. In these cases, every need has to be met with urgency for the organization to survive.

Our pipeline is dependent upon attracting upper-echelon tech talent from our community (often before they leave for college) and then providing them a compelling reason to join our team when they are ready to begin their life’s work. The nature of this task requires us to be very patient, and to make sure we are investing our time and resources wisely.

KatapultLabs, our STEM initiative headed by Danny Thompson, gives us a platform to attract talent in many ways. Danny gets opportunities nearly every week to meet with students, teachers, and organizations to promote STEM education and Maker culture, while our MakeBox campaign provides high-tech projects to students and Makers across the country.

The Libratory (an old library we converted into a MakerSpace) allows Makers of all ages and disciplines to come in and start to wrestle with real creative challenges while interacting and forging relationships with Katapult professionals.

People often ask: “how can I get an interview with Katapult?”

The most direct way is to send a resume and cover letter to Jessica (jrivera@katapultengineering.com) and request a time to meet with Katapult management. In these situations, we are looking to bring a well-rounded individual on board to assist in our service work–someone that will typically take on the responsibilities of a field crew member. People in this position will typically learn and grow, becoming field technicians, and possibly a field team leads. The more time field staff spend on office processing, the faster they become OSP technicians and project managers.

(This is the way I was on-boarded, performing service work while also pushing to contribute as a member of the marketing team.)

The more recent method involves much more patience, but has yielded terrific results so far.

In 2011, high school junior Kyle Gerber took a physics class taught by Katapult President Jeremiah Stonge. The class operated very similarly to our MakerSpace (which was created five years later), and provided Kyle and his peers with opportunities to tackle ambitious projects and get 1:1 feedback from Jeremiah.

During his senior year of high school, Kyle took programming classes taught by Katapult’s Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Bryden. During the fall semester, Andrew proposes the idea of an internship at Katapult Engineering.

Kyle would go on to intern with us that summer (2013), and would return each summer (2014, 2015, and 2016) until he graduated from Grove City College in May 2017.

When Kyle accepted our full-time offer to join the Code Team in 2017, it had been six years since his first exposure to Katapult culture. Kyle now hosts Friday MakeNights at The Libratory, continuing the cycle and investing in the community, our interns, and future Katapult Engineering staff!

We’ve had a few of these longer talent pipelines, and they’ve yielded spectacular results. We’ve started to be more intentional about developing this type of pipeline, and now utilize The Libratory to discover high school and college students who express an interest in Making, are looking for opportunities to learn more about our equipment, and want to assist creating/shipping MakeBoxes to our subscribers across the country.

KatapultLabs Director Danny Thompson interviews these students and tries to connect them with internships that help staff our MakerSpace while providing students with excellent Maker experience and exposure to our professional engineering work. Exemplary interns are given the opportunity to interview for a full-time position at Katapult Engineering (and/or KatapultLabs) upon graduation. If you’re interested in interning at KatapultLabs, send a resume and cover letter to Danny (dthompson@katapultlabs.com).

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